Tees

Windlestone Hall up for £2.5m after Durham County Council sale

Windlestone Hall
Image caption Windlestone Hall, built in 1835, was at times the Eden family home, a prisoner of war camp and a school

The birthplace of a former prime minister has been put up for sale for £2.5m - 10 times the price a council sold it for three years ago.

Durham County Council was criticised for selling Windlestone Hall near Bishop Auckland for £240,000 in 2011.

Now the estate where Sir Anthony Eden was born, which comprises the hall and 25 acres (10.1 hectares) of grounds, is on the market again.

The council said disposing of the hall was the best option at the time.

An external auditor reviewed the sale and found it complied with the rules, although the authority was criticised for a lack of transparency.

John Shuttleworth, who represents Weardale on Durham County Council, has been a vehement critic of the sale and earlier this year asked Durham Police to investigate it.

He said he was not surprised by the estate being put back up for sale, adding "the council are closing care homes and turning off street lights to save some money, but this makes a total nonsense of all of that".

Ian Thompson, Durham County Council's corporate director of regeneration, said the estate had been up for sale for a number of years but, due to the condition of the building, the state of the market and the ongoing maintenance costs, the £240,000 they received was the "only viable" option.

He said: "As well as generating £240,000 for the council, the sale of the hall has delivered substantial savings to the council, including £300,000 since November 2011 on security, heating and repair costs.

"The council is also no longer responsible for carrying out the £3m of urgent repairs that the building required."

The estate is being sold through Urban Base with a total asking price of £2.56m.

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